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Nancy Bentley

Donald T. Regan Professor of English

Undergraduate Chair
Fisher-Bennett Hall 335

Office Hours

fall 2023

Wednesdays 2-3 or by appointment

Nancy Bentley received her Ph.D. from Harvard University where she specialized in 19th- and 20th-century American literature and culture. Her other research interests include law and literature, theory of the novel, African American studies, social theory, and cinema and media.

She is the author of Frantic Panoramas: American Literature and Mass Culture 1870-1920 (U of Pennsylvania Press, 2009) and The Ethnography of Manners (Cambridge UP, 1995 and 2007). She also co-authored Volume 3 of the Cambridge History of American Literature and the Bedford Cultural Edition of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition. Recent essays include "Clannishness: Jewett, Zitkala-Sa, and the Secularization of Kinship" (American Literary History), “The Fourth Dimension: Kinlessness and African American Narrative, Critical Inquiry, and “Creole Kinship: Privacy, Politics, and the Novel in the New World,” in The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century American Literature.

Bentley is currently writing a book New World Kinship and American Literature, a study of the way the novel has mediated the multiple forms of kinship coexisting in the Americas. Her essays have appeared in such journals as Critical Inquiry, ALH, American Literature, ELH, NOVEL, and the Chicago-Kent Law Review. At present she serves on the editorial boards ALH, Nineteenth-Century Literature, and Studies in the Novel. She has received fellowships from Yale, Penn, Dartmouth, and Boston University, and has received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.


Doctoral Dissertations Chaired


Jane Robbins Mize "Waterworks: Settler Industrialization and Literary Experimentation in Twentieth-Century North America"


David Gardner "How Novels Act: The Dramaturgy of Nineteenth-Century American Fiction"
Rafael Walker "Realism after Liberalism: Women, Desire, and the Modern American Novel"


Jarrett Anthony ""Higher Laws: The Making of Religion in Antebellum American Literature""


Emily Ogden "The Science of Error: Mesmerism and American Fiction, 1784–1890"


Hannah Wells "Fallen Subjects: American Pragmatism and the Color Line, 1880-1920"


Mark J. Miller "Voicing Abjection: Evangelic Discourse, Suffering and Speech in Early American Literature"


Martha E. Schoolman "American Abolitionist Geographies: Literature and the Politics of Place, 1840-1861"

Courses Taught

fall 2024

ENGL 1140.001 Modern America canceled  

spring 2024

ENGL 0060.001 Law and Literature  

fall 2023

ENGL 1145.301 Rewriting American Classics  
ENGL 2140.301 Literature of New York City  

fall 2022

ENGL 0060.001 Literature and Law  
ENGL 1140.001 Modern America  

fall 2021

ENGL 106.001 Literature and Law  
ENGL 800.301 Pedagogy  

spring 2021

spring 2020

ENGL 106.001 Literature and Law  

spring 2018

ENGL 064.001 Modern America  

fall 2017

ENGL 106.001 Literature and Law  
ENGL 253.301 Rewriting American Classics  

spring 2017

fall 2016

ENGL 106.001 Literature and Law  
ENGL 253.301 Melville, Stowe, Douglass  

spring 2015

ENGL 066.001 Literature and Law  

fall 2014

ENGL 253.301 Rewriting American Classics  

fall 2012

spring 2012

ENGL 066.001 Literature and Law  

spring 2011

fall 2009

spring 2009

ENGL 066.001 Law and Literature  
ENGL 255.301 Rewriting American Classics  

fall 2008

spring 2007

ENGL 255.302 Rewriting American Classics  

fall 2006

spring 2006

ENGL 102.001 The American Novel  
ENGL 299.307 English Honors Thesis  
ENGL 801.302 Pedagogy  

fall 2005

ENGL 066.001 Literature and Law  
ENGL 590.401 Modern Social Imaginaries  

spring 2005

ENGL 601.301 Proseminar  

fall 2004

spring 2003

fall 2002

spring 2002

fall 2001

spring 2001

fall 2000

spring 1999

spring 1998

fall 1997

spring 1995

ENGL 299.604 The Proprietory Male  

fall 1994

ENGL 015.302 Freshmen Seminar